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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47673 times)
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« Reply #8685 on: Jun 21st, 2013, 10:27am »

Science Daily

Are Dogs 'Kids?': Owner-Dog Relationships Share Striking Similarities to Parent-Child Relationships

June 21, 2013 — People have an innate need to establish close relationships with other people. But this natural bonding behaviour is not confined to humans: many animals also seem to need relationships with others of their kind. For domesticated animals the situation is even more complex and pets may enter deep relationships not only with conspecifics but also with their owners. Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) have investigated the bond between dogs and their owners and have found striking similarities to the parent-child relationship in humans.

Their findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Domestic dogs have been closely associated with humans for about 15,000 years. The animals are so well adapted to living with human beings that in many cases the owner replaces conspecifics and assumes the role of the dog's main social partner. The relationship between pet owners and dogs turns out to be highly similar to the deep connection between young children and their parents.

The importance of the owner to the dog

One aspect of the bond between humans and dogs is the so-called "secure base effect." This effect is also found in parent-child bonding: human infants use their caregivers as a secure base when it comes to interacting with the environment. Until recently the "secure base effect" had not been well examined in dogs. Lisa Horn from the Vetmeduni's Messerli Research Institute therefore decided to take a closer look at the behaviour of dogs and their owners. She examined the dogs' reactions under three different conditions: "absent owner," "silent owner" and "encouraging owner." The dogs could earn a food reward, by manipulating interactive dog toys. Surprisingly, they seemed much less keen on working for food, when their caregivers were not there than when they were. Whether an owner additionally encouraged the dog during the task or remained silent, had little influence on the animal's level of motivation.

When the owner is replaced by a stranger

In a follow-up experiment, Horn and her colleagues replaced the owner with an unfamiliar person. The scientists observed that dogs hardly interacted with the strangers and were not much more interested in trying to get the food reward than when this person was not there. The dogs were much more motivated only when their owner was present. The researchers concluded that the owner's presence is important for the animal to behave in a confident manner.

Why do adult dogs behave like human children?

The study provides the first evidence for the similarity between the "secure base effect" found in dog-owner and child-caregiver relationships. This striking parallel will be further investigated in direct comparative studies on dogs and children. As Horn says, "One of the things that really surprised us is, that adult dogs behave towards their caregivers like human children do. It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behaviour evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130621095502.htm

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« Reply #8686 on: Jun 21st, 2013, 10:29am »

Wired

Someone’s Spending $700M on a Huge Data Center in Iowa

By Klint Finley
06.21.13
9:30 AM

Someone wants to build a $700 million data center codenamed Project Mountain in Des Moines, Iowa. It’s anyone’s guess who’s behind it, but Apple and Amazon are the most likely candidates following Facebook and Google into the area.

The price tag was found in state documents reported by The Des Moines Register on Thursday. The company behind Project Mountain wants $20 million in tax breaks and plans to create at least 24 jobs.

The Hawkeye State is becoming a hotbed for data centers. Last year a company using the codename Project Catapult bought a chunk of land Altoona, just outside Des Moines, and The Register noted that the city “has fielded interest recently from three or four site selectors looking to locate large data center projects.” Facebook confirmed earlier this year that it’s the company behind Project Catapult. Meanwhile, Microsoft already has a center in West Des Moines and Google has one in Council Bluffs, about two hours west of Des Moines.

There are but a few companies that could be building a data center of such scale in Iowa. Given that Facebook and Google already are there, that leaves Apple and Amazon as the most likely candidates. Twitter operates at a similar scale but doesn’t build its own data centers. Other big tech companies like Yahoo and eBay seem unlikely to expand any time soon.

It isn’t unusual to see tech companies follow each other into new areas. When Apple built a data center in Maiden, North Carolina three years ago to support its then-new iCloud service, Facebook followed suit with a center about an hour away in Forest City. At about the same time, Facebook selected Prineville, Oregon for another data center. Now Apple is building a data center across the street.

The House That Jobs Built also is building a data center in Reno, Nevada. It’s worth noting, however, that Apple had job postings for the Reno gig posted long before construction began. So far, there’s no such listings for jobs in Iowa, which suggests maybe Apple isn’t looking to the land of corn and covered bridges.

Amazon has similar taste in real estate. The company opened data centers in Boardman, Oregon in 2011 and most likely is still expanding, though it’s expected to build its next data centers outside the U.S.

While Apple and Amazon seem most likely, they’re not the only possibilities. For example, Rackspace has been expanding and will soon join Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google in Oregon. But a spokesperson for Rackspace says the company has no plans to expand into Iowa.

And it’s anyone’s guess what the NSA is up to, what with that massive data center it’s building in Utah and all the data it’s siphoning from telecoms and tech companies.

Amazon and Twitter declined to comment for the story. Apple did not respond to our request for comment.

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/06/iowa-data-center/

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« Reply #8687 on: Jun 21st, 2013, 10:31am »




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« Reply #8688 on: Jun 22nd, 2013, 08:25am »

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« Reply #8689 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 08:34am »

Seattle Times

Originally published June 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Page modified June 22, 2013 at 10:05 PM

She stole another’s identity, and took her secret to the grave. Who was she?

The death of a wife and mother in Texas revealed a case of stolen identity with a connection to the Northwest. Now a Seattle investigator is trying to figure out who this mystery woman really was.

By Maureen O'Hagan
Seattle Times staff reporter

Joe Velling arranged the clues around the big table: a birth certificate for a girl in Fife. An Idaho ID card. Pages from an Arizona phone book. And scraps of paper with scribbled notes, including the name of an attorney and the words “402 months.”

These, he explained, came from the strongbox. And the strongbox is at the center of a mystery that has vexed him for nearly two years. As an investigator for the Social Security Administration (SSA), he’s nabbed more con men than he can count. But this case with the strongbox has him at wit’s end — not so much a whodunit but a who-is-it?

The woman in question was known as Lori Ruff. A 41-year-old wife and mother, she never quite fit in. She was a vegetarian in East Texas. A pretty brunette who dressed like a matron. A grown woman who wanted a child’s Easy-Bake oven for Christmas.

The strongbox was Lori’s. For years, she kept it tucked in a bedroom closet, among a long list of items her husband, Blake Ruff, knew he was never to touch. Blake being Blake, he obeyed.

Lori died in 2010. That’s when Blake’s relatives found the box. Its contents told an astonishing story: The woman they knew as Lori was someone else entirely. She had created a new identity two decades earlier.

That brings us to our mystery. If Lori wasn’t really Lori, who was she? And why would she go so far to hide her past?

Velling’s investigation has taken him from his office in Seattle to an oil-boom family in Texas, from a mail drop in Nevada to a graveyard in Puyallup. He’s used every trick at his disposal, followed every lead. Finally, as a last resort, he called the newspaper.

“I might have a story for you,” he began.

Blank spaces in past

We’ll start the story where the facts are certain: Lori’s marriage into the Ruff clan, in 2003.

The Ruffs are a close-knit East Texas family, warm and friendly people who sent their kids to boarding school and socialize at the country club. They live between Dallas and Shreveport in Longview, a mid­sized city that feels like a small town. They’re in the banking and real-estate business, and are well-known around town. Blake’s paternal grandparents had set down roots there during the oil boom of the 1930s.

“They’re what everybody here likes to call ‘boomers,’ ” Blake’s mother, Nancy Ruff, explained.

Blake earned bachelor’s degrees in economics from the University of Texas in Austin, in telecom management from DeVry, and worked for years on commercial accounts for Verizon. His family describes him as an agreeable guy and honest almost to a fault.

Ask him what drew him to Lori, and his answer isn’t entirely clear. “She was tall, you know, an attractive person,” he will say, and leave it at that.

His brother-in-law, an attorney named Miles Darby, says that’s typical Blake. “He does not have much of an inner monologue,” Miles said. Or, for that matter, an outer one. His speech is stilted. Ask one question and he answers another. It’s not that Blake is trying to be evasive. He’s just different.

Often, he’d follow the lead of his identical-twin brother, David. When David bought a black Tahoe, Blake did too, Miles said. And when David joined a church Bible study class and met the woman he would later marry, Miles knew where Blake was headed.

He met Lori Kennedy at the Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, and they soon began to court. “That’s the Christian term,” Blake noted. She was smart and fond of animals, and enjoyed going out for tea.

Blake’s parents were eager to meet his new lady friend, so they invited him and Lori to lunch. Tell us about your youth, Nancy asked, trying to be friendly. Your family. Tell us your story. Her parents were dead, Lori said. She had no living brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles. No one.

High school? Lori skipped straight to college. It went on like that all afternoon — Nancy asking and Lori deflecting.

The Ruffs weren’t so sure of this woman whose past was all empty spaces. But Blake didn’t seem to mind the gaps.

“Blake is the type of guy who takes everything you say at face value,” Miles explained, not unkindly.

Lori once told Blake she had destroyed all the old photos of her family because she’d had a bad life. “He didn’t follow up with the question, ‘Well, what was so bad about it?’ ” Velling said.

When Blake decided to marry Lori, Nancy wanted to put an announcement in the local paper: Blake Ruff, son of Jon and Nancy Ruff, and Lori Kennedy, daughter of ... daughter of who? Lori wouldn’t allow it.

“She said, ‘We don’t do things like that,’ ” Nancy recalled.

Less than a year after they met, Blake and Lori ran off and married in a small church outside of Dallas. The only person in attendance was the preacher.

On the trail

In September 2011, Velling was at a meeting in Washington, D.C., when a congressman’s aide gave him a three-ring binder. It contained items from Lori’s strongbox and other documents pulled together by the Ruff family. By this point, they knew Lori wasn’t Lori. They wanted help figuring out who she was.

The SSA, which investigates the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers, was an obvious place to turn. As the special agent in charge of the Seattle investigations office, Velling is an expert in identity theft. He’s busted crooks who open credit cards in strangers’ names. He’s brought down con men who have swindled banks out of millions. He’s tracked cheats who adopt a new identity to avoid supporting their families.

“My immediate reaction was, I’ll crack this pretty quickly,” he recalled thinking when he saw the binder.

The congressman was a friend of the Ruff family, but he also served on the House intelligence committee.

“He just wanted to make sure she wasn’t a KGB mole,” Velling said. Far-fetched? Maybe. Still, you don’t take on a new identity just for the heck of it. There's got to be a reason.

It seems clear Lori didn’t do this for the money. So what was it? Velling checked off the possibilities. Was she running away after committing some horrible crime? Was she the victim of one? Was she fleeing an abusive relationship? Did she break free from a cult?

He knows one thing for sure: “There’s no doubt she planned it out.”

Living in a cocoon

After Blake and Lori married, they bought a house on 2 acres outside of tiny Leonard, Texas (population 1,900). It was 125 miles from the Ruff home in Longview.

Neighbors on their single-lane road couldn’t figure them out. Blake tried to be neighborly. Lori didn’t. They’d see her in the evenings, walking the perimeter of the property, avoiding eye contact.

“She really didn’t like people as much as she liked working at home on her computer,” Nancy explained.

For work, Lori called herself a marketing consultant. Mostly, she ran a home business as a mystery shopper. One day she might be testing new products; another she’d eat at a hamburger joint and report on the service.

In six years, neighbor Denny Gorena remembers socializing with them exactly once. Most of the time, Lori and Blake lived in their own little world — a cocoon, you might call it.

More than anything, Lori wanted a child. Several times, she miscarried, according to Blake. The family now suspects part of the difficulty was that she was older than she claimed. She had repeated fertility treatments until, finally, in the summer of 2008, she gave birth to a baby girl.

The way Lori held her daughter, it didn’t appear she’d spent much time around babies, Blake said. She was extremely protective. If the baby tried to chew on something, Lori would snatch it away. She wouldn’t let Nancy baby-sit. Come to think of it, Nancy said, she didn’t leave her alone with the child at all.

“This is grandbaby number nine!” Nancy said. “We’re all baby people.”

Lori’s greatest pleasure was dressing up and going out to tea shops, where the two of them would pose for mother-daughter photos.

But tensions were building between the Ruff family and Lori. On one hand, she spent hours tracking their genealogy and collecting their family recipes. But on visits, it wasn’t unusual for her to sneak off for a long nap. When the rest of the women gathered in the kitchen to talk and cook, Lori didn’t join them.

“Maybe,” Blake said, trying to understand, “she wasn’t even comfortable around her own self. How would she be comfortable around the family?

“I’m assuming something really tragic must have happened,” he says in retrospect. “Something awful, is what it appears to me.”

Mental meltdown

A funny thing happens when you take on a new identity, Velling said. You get a fresh start. But it’s also a chain.

“It can take a stranglehold on you,” he said. “You have got to hold to that story all the way through. In the end, I think that’s what happened to her.”

Blake said that as time wore on, the situation with his family grew more difficult. Lori constantly found fault with them. She’d hold on to every perceived slight and complain about them incessantly. She didn’t want her daughter to visit with them.

For Blake, who is very close with his family, it was excruciating.

Finally he had enough. In the summer of 2010, he moved out of Leonard and back in with his parents. Later, he filed for divorce.

Lori unraveled.

Denny, the neighbor, said the first time he saw her after that, she and her then-2-year-old looked very thin.

“She was frantic, about to the point of incoherence,” he said. “From that point on, I never saw her focus again.”

more after the jump:
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021243552_janedoexml.html

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« Reply #8690 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 08:36am »

Reuters

Snowden leaves Hong Kong, may be heading for Venezuela

By James Pomfret

HONG KONG
Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:32am EDT

(Reuters) - A former U.S. security contractor charged by Washington with espionage was allowed to leave Hong Kong on Sunday, his final destination not confirmed, because a U.S. request to have him arrested did not comply with the law, the Hong Kong government said.

Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency, had been hiding in Hong Kong since leaking details about U.S. surveillance activities to news media.

The United States wanted him to be extradited to face trial and is likely to be furious about reports that he was travelling to Moscow on Sunday before flying on to Cuba and Venezuela.

"It's a shocker," said Simon Young, a law professor with Hong Kong University. "I thought he was going to stay and fight it out. The U.S. government will be irate."

A source at Russia's Aeroflot airline said Snowden would fly from Moscow to Cuba on Monday and then planned to go on to Venezuela. The South China Morning Post earlier said his final destination might be Ecuador or Iceland.

The WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website said it helped Snowden find "political asylum in a democratic country".

It added in an update on Twitter that he was accompanied by diplomats and legal advisers and was travelling via a safe route for the purposes of seeking asylum.

"The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden's rights and protecting him as a person," former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, legal director of WikiLeaks and lawyer for the group's founder Julian Assange, said in a statement.

"What is being done to Mr Snowden and to Mr Julian Assange - for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest - is an assault against the people."

Assange has taken sanctuary in the Ecuadorean embassy in London and said last week he would not leave even if Sweden stopped pursuing sexual assault claims against him because he feared arrest on the orders of the United States.

U.S. authorities have charged Snowden with theft of U.S. government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person, with the latter two charges falling under the U.S. Espionage Act.

The United States had asked Hong Kong, a special administrative region (SAR) of China, to send Snowden home.

"The U.S. government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden," the Hong Kong government said in a statement.

"Since the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the U.S. government to provide additional information ... As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong."

It did not say what further information it needed.

The White House had no comment.

CHINA SAYS U.S. "BIGGEST VILLAIN"

Hong Kong, a former British colony, reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 and although it retains an independent legal system, and its own extradition laws, Beijing has control over Hong Kong's foreign affairs. Some observers see Beijing's hand in Snowden's sudden departure.

Iceland refused on Friday to say whether it would grant asylum to Snowden, a former employee of contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who worked at an NSA facility in Hawaii.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said earlier this month that Russia would consider granting Snowden asylum if he were to ask for it and pro-Kremlin lawmakers supported the idea, but there has been no indication he has done so.

The South China Morning Post earlier quoted Snowden offering new details about the United States' spy activities, including accusations of U.S. hacking of Chinese mobile telephone companies and targeting China's Tsinghua University.

Documents previously leaked by Snowden revealed that the NSA has access to vast amounts of internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video from large companies, including Facebook and Google, under a government program known as Prism.

China's Xinhua news agency, referring to Snowden's accusations about the hacking of Chinese targets, said they were "clearly troubling signs".

It added: "They demonstrate that the United States, which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyber attacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age."

Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador are all members of the ALBA bloc, an alliance of leftist governments in Latin America who pride themselves on their "anti-imperialist" credentials.

(Additional reporting by Fayen Wong in Shanghai, Nishant Kumar in Hong Kong and Andrew Cawthorne in Caracas; Alexei Anishchuk and Steve Gutterman in Moscow, and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Anna Willard and Sonya Hepinstall)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/23/us-usa-security-flight-idUSBRE95M02H20130623

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« Reply #8691 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 08:44am »

Wired

Crash Into Me: Underwater Wave Photos Turn a Fluke Into Eye Candy

By Alex Washburn
06.21.13
6:30 AM



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Today is officially the first day of summer, but not all of us can take vacations. For those poor souls, a look through Mark Tipple’s The Underwater Project is the next best thing.

The project was born by accident. The Australian photographer was shooting underwater and snapped a picture of a swimmer struggling underneath a crashing wave. Later on when Tipple was reviewing the day’s shoot, he was struck by the young man’s expression and the ethereal quality of the chaotic scene.

“[The first image] was a personal favorite and I’m still trying to beat it,” he says. “But it’s also the most frustrating as I have no idea who he is.”

As an experienced surf photographer Tipple realized he was on to something. He’d seen a lot of photos of people underwater but never seen anything that focused on the aesthetic of the waves from below or the body language of the people evading them. Ever since, he’s been chasing waves and trying to track that original swimmer down to thank him for inspiring an entire body of work.

The photos in The Underwater Project are not only beautiful but also unique in the way they convey the power of the ocean. The people Tipple photographs are often suspended in awkward positions as they fight, fruitlessly, to maintain control.

Tipple says he’s constantly getting tossed around as well and often has to rely on a Hail Mary shot. He only knows if he has a picture when he checks the back of his camera after the water calms down.


more after the jump:
http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2013/06/mark-tipple-underwater-project/

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« Reply #8692 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 08:48am »

Science News

News in Brief: Aerial radar sizes up ancient urban sprawl

Angkor, capital of Cambodia's Khmer empire, grew extensive suburbs inhabited by rice farmers

By Bruce Bower
Web edition: June 20, 2013

Laser pulses beamed from a low-flying airplane into northwestern Cambodia’s dense jungles have revealed ancient remnants of extensive, carefully planned settlements of rice farmers. These settlements were part of Angkor, the capital of the region’s Khmer empire.

Angkor flourished from around 900 to 1500, but forests now obscure much of the city’s urban sprawl. Laser technology called lidar has now seen through the jungle to the ground. It shows that, starting around 1100, roadways and canals formed rectangular grids — much like modern city blocks — around Angkor’s central temples and royal palaces, say archaeologist Damian Evans of the University of Sydney and his colleagues. Similar grids containing villages, ponds and small temples spread out far into the countryside over the next few centuries, covering as many as 1,000 square kilometers, the researchers report June 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New probes of Angkor’s landscape support an increasingly popular idea: The city grew so large that its canals and reservoirs could not provide enough water when severe droughts hit around 1400. Residents may have gradually abandoned Angkor for cities built near rivers, in the region of today’s Phnom Penh.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/351127/description/News_in_Brief_Aerial_radar_sizes_up_ancient_urban_sprawl

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« Reply #8693 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 08:53am »

HUH! hard to believe that part of the world could have a catastrophic drought.
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« Reply #8694 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 3:59pm »

sad

"I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This": A Soldier's Last Words
http://gawker.com/i-am-sorry-that-it-has-come-to-this-a-soldiers-last-534538357
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« Reply #8695 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 4:57pm »

Wow, Phil! That is simply......sad.......terrifying.......infuriating.

It hi-lights a huge shortfall in our support of veterans; not to mention questioning how we use them!
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« Reply #8696 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 9:23pm »

Hi, philliman , swamprat and all -

Thanks for the article, philliman. It indeed brings many things to mind.

One such thing is that a normal way to respond to traumatic events is to be traumatized. It is not a healthy response to not react, and, as I understand it, the feelings the man described could be considered reasonably normal for such conditions. It therefore becomes a healthy response to seek treatment for trauma.

Another thing that comes to mind surrounding such issues is the unfortunate drawing of lines in the sand between liberals and conservatives. I have been hesitant to post relevant material at times because I do not want to instigate political arguments, as I respect that the views of readers are diverse. Moreover and as I recently mentioned in another thread, solutions are complex, not without consequence and simply will not have unanimous support.

All of that stated, I offer an article from Project Censored, a Sonoma State University program dedicated to teaching students and the public about the role of a free press in a free society - and to tell the news that didn't make the news and why. More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat documented the prevalence of suicide among veterans, and how it accounted for more deaths than combat. The issue made the Project Censored top 25 stories not reported by MSM in 2012.
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« Reply #8697 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 9:38pm »

Jack I suspect WW II was the last war we had any business fighting. All the rest of them have had to be propped up with propaganda. I recall my time in boot camp on Parris Island in 1963. We were constantly peppered with comments about "the domino effect" of communism and the fact that it had to be stopped "right here and right now".

After boot camp I was stationed at LeJeune. I used to hitchhike in uniform all over the country. I could beat the bus schedules and train schedules because everyone would give a service man a ride. Six years later I would walk through a train station and get spit at by passers-by.

Fortunately today's service men and women are treated with more respect. However the amount of medical and mental support they receive after they come home is shamefully lacking.
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« Reply #8698 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 9:49pm »

I can certainly empathize with your point of view, swamprat. And I respect the soldier, regardless of the politician and propagandist. No one should ever be subjected to witnessing and participating in events that would result in emotional damage as described in the piece philliman posted.
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« Reply #8699 on: Jun 23rd, 2013, 9:52pm »

on Jun 23rd, 2013, 9:38pm, Swamprat wrote:
After boot camp I was stationed at LeJeune. I used to hitchhike in uniform all over the country. I could beat the bus schedules and train schedules because everyone would give a service man a ride. Six years later I would walk through a train station and get spit at by passers-by.


I am very sorry. I am sorry for that segment of American history, its toll on the service personnel and its toll on their loved ones.

Thank you for your service, efforts and courage, swamprat. I personally appreciate it from all.
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